Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, Pawel Smietanka, 25 September 2019

The Decision Maker Panel, a monthly survey of CFOs from around 3,000 UK businesses, provides data on the uncertainty created by the Brexit process and the effect that is having on British businesses. This column summarises the latest results up until end August 2019, which reveal a broad-based rise in the proportion of respondents reporting that Brexit was one of their top three sources of uncertainty in recent months to close to the highest level since the EU referendum.  That uncertainty is also expected to be more persistent than previously thought.

Ralph Koijen, François Koulischer, Benoît Nguyen, Motohiro Yogo, 18 September 2019

Recent economic performance in the euro area has once again raised the possibility of the ECB conducting asset purchases. This column sorts security-level portfolio holdings data by investor type and across countries in the euro area to study portfolio rebalancing during the ECB purchase programme from 2015-17. There was a material difference in the impact on investors by geography – with foreign investors selling more than half of purchases.

Christoph Boehm, 07 September 2019

Fiscal stimulus packages typically feature large investment in infrastructure. The column argues that the fiscal multiplier associated with government investment during the Great Recession was near zero. Meanwhile, the government consumption multiplier was around 0.8. Estimates of the multiplier for total government purchases do not distinguish these two effects, which may affect their validity.

Robert J. Gordon, Hassan Sayed, 29 August 2019

Since 2005, productivity growth in the US and Europe has dipped below 1%. Using new industry-level from the US and ten EU countries, this column shows that that the industrial composition of the slowdown was similar in Europe and the US. Falling multifactor productivity growth explains both the magnitude and composition of falling productivity growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Decelerating technical change, rather than slowing investment, was the primary driving force in the transatlantic slowdown. 

Holger Breinlich, Dennis Novy, 16 August 2019

As Brexit nears (again), are British firms choosing to invest in the UK or in other European markets? Are European firms investing in the UK to preserve access to its markets? And has "global Britain" got off the drawing board yet? Holger Breinlich and Dennis Novy lead Tim Phillips through the numbers.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Romain Lafarguette, Arnaud Mehl, 13 August 2019

Many policymakers are concerned that fast trading has adverse effects on markets, although the existing evidence is ambiguous. This column argues that high-frequency trading can increase market efficiency and the quality of trade. By creating noise, fast trades may prevent traders with a herd mentality from pushing prices in one direction. 

Rawley Heimer, Alp Simsek, 03 August 2019

Policymakers for long have attempted to curb financial speculation while preserving markets for useful trading. This column analyses the impact of a recent US policy which restricts leverage in the foreign exchange market. It finds that the policy reduced speculative trading without impeding markets, and thus provides important lessons to address excessive growth in financial markets. 

James Anderson, Mario Larch, Yoto Yotov, 30 July 2019

Foreign direct investment has traditionally been viewed as a key driver of prosperity, and modern FDI has also become a vehicle for transferring intangible assets. This column uses a counterfactual experiment based on a hypothetical world with no outward or inward FDI to and from low-income and lower-middle-income countries to examine the effects of FDI on trade, domestic investment, and welfare. World welfare falls by about 6% and all countries lose out, with some poorer countries losing over 50%. World trade falls by 7%, with the losses again unevenly distributed.

Robert Barro, 25 July 2019

GDP counts investment twice – when it occurs and when rental income results. This column proposes an amendment to the national accounting system that only includes investment once. This would ensure that national income accounts do not overstate the resources available for consumption. It also has major implications for the estimation of the capital share in income.

John Gathergood, David Hirshleifer, David Leake, Hiroaki Sakaguchi, Neil Stewart, 22 June 2019

Investors who choose to build their own portfolios by stock-picking face the choice of how to diversify among stocks. The 1/N heuristic, equalising portfolio shares across stocks held, works well in practice. This column shows that investors who buy stocks often employ a different form of 1/N, dividing purchase value equally rather than maintaining a 1/N allocation. By narrowly framing their buy-day decision, these investors move their portfolios farther away from balance.

Weicheng Lian, Natalija Novta, Evgenia Pugacheva, Yannick Timmer, Petia Topalova, 07 June 2019

The dramatic decline in the relative price of capital goods has been an important – but overlooked – driver of real investment. This column analyses cross-country price data to establish that deepening trade integration and productivity growth have both contributed to this decline. The erosion of support for international trade and sluggish productivity growth may limit further declines in relative prices of capital goods, which could negatively affect real investment rates. 

Francesco Franzoni, 03 June 2019

The asset management industry has become increasingly concentrated in recent decades. Regulators are concerned about the systemic risks this may pose. Using data from the US, this column suggests that the increased concentration has led to more volatile prices of stocks held by large institutional investors. This poses challenges for regulators trying to weigh price efficiency and economies of scale.

Hites Ahir, Nicholas Bloom, Davide Furceri, 11 May 2019

According to the latest IMF projections, the global economy is now projected to grow at 3.3% in 2019, down from 3.6% in 2018. This is partly due to rising uncertainty in many parts of the world. This column shows how these statements are in line with the latest reading of the World Uncertainty Index, which shows a sharp increase in the first quarter of 2019. The increase in uncertainty observed in the first quarter could be enough to knock up to 0.5% of global growth over the course of the year. 

David Martinez-Miera, Rafael Repullo, 27 March 2019

Various factors have been advanced as possible causes of the build-up of risks leading to the Global Crisis, and multiple policies have been put forward to address them. This column discusses the effectiveness of monetary policy and macroprudential policy in responding to the build-up of risks in the financial sector. While both policies are useful, macroprudential policy is more effective in terms of financial stability and can lead to higher welfare gains.

Mengjia Ren, Lee Branstetter, Brian Kovak, Daniel Armanios, Jiahai Yuan, 16 March 2019

Despite leading the world in clean energy investment in recent years, China continues to engage in massive expansion of coal power thanks to policies that effectively subsidise and (over)incentivise coal power investment. This column examines the effects of the 2014 devolution of authority from the central government to local governments on approvals for coal power projects. It finds that the approval rate for coal power projects is about three times higher when the approval authority is decentralised, and provinces with larger coal industries tend to approve more coal power.

Jacques Bughin, 26 February 2019

The US and China are clear leaders in investment in, and the adoption of, artificial intelligence. This column argues that while Europe lags in these areas, it is home to high levels of developer talent and to significant AI hubs. European AI may thrive if its human capital and innovation culture are combined with levels of investment seen elsewhere.

Peter Egger, Katharina Erhardt, Christian Keuschnigg, 25 February 2019

The effect of taxes on firm-level investments is very heterogeneous. This column shows that the impact of corporate taxation is up to 70% higher for entrepreneurial firms than for managerial ones, while dividend taxation negatively affects the investment of financially constrained firms but entails no significant impact on cash-rich firms. Policy should provide targeted tax relief to the most constrained firms, where taxes are most harmful, if other policies are unsuccessful in improving access to external funds.

Philipp-Bastian Brutscher, Pauline Ravillard, 14 February 2019

Promoting investment in energy efficiency has become increasingly important over the past decade, but not much is known about effective ways to promote firm-level investments in energy efficiency. Using new experimental data on EU firms’ stated willingness to invest in hypothetical energy-efficiency projects with varying offers of financing and technical assistance, this column demonstrates how a favourable financing offer can increase the likelihood that firms are willing to invest in energy efficiency by as much as 33%. 

Debora Revoltella, 22 January 2019

Europe is at risk of falling behind its global competitors. In a period of radical technological transformation, European firms are investing too little, with a gap both in tangible and intangible investment compared to the US. This column calls for a ‘retooling’ of Europe’s economy in relation to skills, innovation finance, the business environment, infrastructure, and deepening the Single Market.

Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Luc Laeven, David Moreno, 15 January 2019

Euro area corporate sector investment collapsed post-crisis, especially in periphery countries. The column uses firm and bank data to investigate whether corporate debt accumulated during the boom years was responsible. Firms with higher leverage or firms that borrowed more decreased investment more, especially when linked to weak banks. These channels explain about 60% of the decline in aggregate corporate investment during the crisis.

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